Following her critically acclaimed 2016, 103 date sell-out international run of The Kardashians Made Me Do It and fresh from being ravaged by hunger and sand-flies on Channel 4’s Celebrity Island, Shazia Mirza returns to the road with her brand new show, With Love From St Tropez.

A show about lies and truth (or is that the same thing?), nudity and the periodic table, these things hold the key to the future. How much do you wear? What do you look like, and will they let you in? Oh, and don't you dare wear more than dental floss on a French beach. The Kardashians Made Me Do It explored politically correct liberalism, the intrusion of ISIS into young British lives and Jihadi brides and enjoyed four sell-out runs in London as well as the US, Sweden and Paris.  This brand new show is about lies, lies and more lies. The truth is so 1980's.

Shazia was recently seen back to absolute basics in Channel 4’s Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls, and earlier this year she took a speedy turn (2.07 seconds to be exact) in BBC2’s Top Gear’s ‘A Star in a Reasonably Priced Car ‘ segment. She recently guested on ITV’s Jonathan Ross and Loose Women and she is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff. Other TV credits include Have I Got News For You (BBC), F*** Off, I'm a Hairy Woman (BBC), NBC's Last Comic Standing, Beautiful People (BBC2), The World Stands Up (Paramount Comedy) and The Late Late Show (RTE). She has also appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Graham Norton show, Radio 4’s The Now Show , and her Pause For Thoughts can often been heard on Radio 2’s Vanessa Feltz Show. 

In 2008 she was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy, won 'Columnist of the Year’ at the prestigious PPA Awards for her fortnightly column in The New Statesman and won The GG2 Young Achiever of the Year Award. She has performed internationally all over the world and is a regular contributor to The Financial Times and writes her weekly column 'Dairy of a Disappointing Daughter’ for The Guardian.

Cornfield's Content Editor caught up with Shazia ahead of her gig at Birmingham's Old Rep. 

 

Image Credit: Martin Twomey

Interview by Evie Kissack

So your brand new tour With Love From St Tropez comes to Birmingham 2nd February. Your last tour, The Kardashians Made Me Do It featured some very hilarious, controversial material. I’ve heard some rumours about the title of your new tour – how, and why, did you come up with the title With Love From St Tropez

I came up with the title after I was on holiday in the South of France last summer. I was on a normal beach and at the end of the beach it turned into a nudest beach, and I saw a lot of things there that I have never ever seen in my life before (or after). There was complete nakedness! But, a few days later they then banned the burkha. I was totally confused. So, nipples are fine, but if you want to cover your ears that's just not acceptable. 

The tour was given fabulous reviews following its debut at the Fringe. How was Edinburgh back in October?

Edinburgh was great. I love going there and doing a new show and trying out new material. Sometimes it even goes well. You really have to do it for many months to hone it before a tour though. I love Edinburgh because I watch loads of shows there.

On your website in the ‘About’ section, there’s a little remark: ‘her parents just want her to get married’. This is typical of that sharp, dry wit you have become renowned for. Is this really true? 

I use a lot of things that people say in my show. Things that I hear people say on a bus, things my neighbours say...but the best things are the things my parents say. They don’t realise they are totally offensive. They think they’re normal and really well mannered.

How has your upbringing influenced your comedy, if at all?

When you start in comedy, you talk about what you know. You talk about your upbringing, school, parents, love, relationships, truths in your life. I didn’t start having opinions and a strong point of view on things until I developed many years later.

Did you always want to be a comedian?

No, it was an accident, it wasn’t something I ever planned to do.  I was a Science teacher in an East End comprehensive, and I told them jokes to control them and to help me survive. I was doing stand up every day, then one day I realised I was performing and thought, I should go and do this to a proper audience, one that isn't bored or throwing baking flour over my car when I come out of a gig.

You’ve previously written highly entertaining columns for The Guardian, New Statesman and have written articles featured in the Financial Times. Have you always been a keen writer?

I’ve always really enjoyed writing stories from what I see and hear and about my life. I write my own stand up so it's just similar to that really. I’m writing what is truthful to me, and what I think.

As a female Muslim comedian, you stand as a role model for many young women, which must be a wonderful feeling. Do you ever feel pressured to make people aware of the lack of representation for Muslim female comedians in the industry? Or due to this lack of widespread representation, feel pressured to somehow represent a collective Muslim female experience?

I have always been put under pressure by the media, by the industry, by some of the public to represent all women, all Muslims, all Asians, all people from Birmingham. But I have only ever wanted to represent myself. I can only represent myself, it would be stupid to put myself up as a representative for entire groups of people as we are all individuals and although we may have the same skin colour or accent, we think differently and have different views and I certainly do not speak for other people.

Image Credit: Amelia Troubridge

Do you think it’s important to push the boundaries of comedy?

I never set out to push boundaries, or challenge people, or do anything other than make people laugh. If they do more than make people laugh then that’s great, but I have to do my job first.

How do you come up with the material for your gigs? 

From real life, things I see, things I hear and things that have happened to me. It has to be truthful in some way for me to find some funny in it.

 Do you have any idols in the comedy world, or perhaps even outside of it?

The obvious ones all of which are dead. Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, George Carlin. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Do you find audiences’ reactions differ across countries and even counties? 

Yes, because different countries, and cultures have different senses of humour and different life experiences. I have an Austrian friend who has a sense of humour I will never understand in a million years, but I’m fascinated by it and trying my best to understand it. Even in Britain people’s humour is different in different cities. Birmingham has a great sense of humour.

You’ve also featured on several TV shows, including The Island with Bear Grylls. Would you ever take part in a programme like this again? 

I wouldn’t do this exact same TV show again, as I feel like I did my very best. But I would do another challenge, I think its good to push yourself to the edge of things, you find out just how capable you are of doings things you never thought you could do.

Thank you for answering some of my burning questions – I can’t wait for your visit to Birmingham in Feb. Good luck with the whole tour!

Thanks!

 

TOUR DATES

FEBRUARY VENUE BOX OFFICE

Fri 2nd BIRMINGHAM, Old Rep 0121 3599444

Sat 3rd LEAMINGTON SPA, Royal Spa Centre 01926 887 726

Fri 23rd TUNBRIDGE WELLS, Trinity Theatre 01892 678 678

Sun 25th NEWCASTLE, The Stand 0191 300 9700

MARCH

Thurs 1st COLCHESTER, Arts Centre 01206 500900

Fri 2nd WORCESTER, Huntingdon Hall 01905 611 427

Sat 3rd BRIDGNORTH, Theatre on the Steps 01746 764949

Fri 9th LEICESTER, The Y 0116 2557066

Sat 10th MILTON KEYNES, Stables 01908 280800

Sat 24th BANBURY, Mill Arts Centre 01295 279002

Tues 27th BRIGHTON, Komedia 01273 647100 

Thurs 29th NORTH FINCHLEY, Arts Depot 020 8369 5454

APRIL

Fri 6th OXFORD, Old Fire Station 01865 263980

Sat 7th LEEDS, Carriageworks Theatre 0113 3760318

Thurs 12th SOUTHAMPTON, Hanger Farm Arts Centre 023 8066 7274

Fri 13th WIRKSWORTH, Town Hall 01629 823408

Sun 15th EDINBURGH, Monkey Barrel 0845 5001056

Mon 23rd-Fri 27th LONDON, Soho Theatre0207 4780100

Sat 28th SALFORD, The Lowry 0843 208 6003

MAY

Fri 4th HARPENDEN, Pubic Halls 01582 767525

Sat 5th CAMBRIDGE, The Junction 01223 511 511

Sun 6th GLASGOW, The Stand 0141 212 3389 

Tues 8th EPSOM, Playhouse 01372 742555

Thurs 10th SHEFFIELD, Memorial Hall 0114 2789789

Fri 11th COVENTRY, Warwick Arts Centre 024 7652 4524

Sat 12th HIGH WYCOMBE, Old Town Hall 01494 512000 

Sun 13th BRISTOL, Colston Hall 0844 887 1500

Thurs 17th HUDDERSFIELD, Lawrence Batley Theatre 01484 430528

Fri 18th DERBY, Assembly Rooms 01332 255443

Sat 19th May HEBDEN BRIDGE, Little Theatre 01422 843945

Thurs 24th ABERYSTWYTH, Arts Centre 01970 623232

Sat 26th BROMSGROVE, Artrix – studio 01527 577330

JUNE

Fri 8th NORWICH, The Gargage 01603 283382

 

Website      Twitter       Facebook

Get In Touch

Drop us a line

Contact Info

We would love to hear from you and appreciate your feedback. Please get in touch with any queries or questions that you may have regarding the Cornfield Magazine.

Phone: 0121 796 6800

Email: info@cornfieldpublishing.co.uk

Website: www.cornfieldpublishing.co.uk

Address: Wythall Business Centre May Lane, Birmingham, B47 5PD